This Martian Life: A Column
By SEAN WARDWELL
In all our human debates, there can be none quite as stupid or futile than those about God and religion. There can be no subject that has incited so much hatred and spilled so much blood over something that can never be 100 percent proven. It’s called faith for a reason. If it were fact, then we wouldn’t need faith.
Yet, for some reason, there will always be those who believe their faith is fact, and the only relevant fact in existence. They will attempt to force that “fact” on others under the delusion that they’re doing them a favor. They’ll use a vessel that should be filled with love, and carry poison in it instead. They’ll take the image and symbols of a man of peace and use them to make war. They’ll rationalize the most vile and disgusting behaviors as hating the sin and loving the sinner.
They will, in short, colossally miss the point and expect us to thank them for their epic mistakes.
This became sadly evident after reading several comments on a story we ran regarding a request by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to halt sectarian prayer at meetings of the San Marcos City Council. Some were tame, while others roared against “pagan prayers” and “godless people.”
I do think the ACLU went a bit far in its request, but I support the request because I see it for what it is, and my Christian faith (which I won’t discuss here in detail because I don’t want to cheapen it) compels me to respect and endorse it. I can’t tell you how sick I am of Christians who think that a request for non-sectarian prayer somehow equals persecution.
Persecution isn’t someone saying you’re wrong in praying, or in using government to prop up one faith over another. Persecution is someone saying you’re wrong before tossing you into an arena full of hungry lions or shooting you. There’s a difference that’s pretty easy to spot if one chooses to look hard enough for it.
Yet, there will always be those who feign persecution to lend faux moral weight to their statements. If no hungry lions are available, they’ll just make some up.
Nobody is trying to outlaw prayer here, as some have suggested. That’s a silly, knee-jerk reaction to a reasonable request that a representative body should be representative in all things public. We’re not all Christians here in San Marcos. We have Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, agnostics, and yes, some atheists, too. All deserve a modicum of respect to their right to believe as they will. That becomes tough when your elected officials designate a religion above all others as their collected, preferred and endorsed deity.
At the core of this issue, however, is not God or pretend persecution, but simple, everyday politeness. It really doesn’t have to be more complicated that that. It’s polite to be inclusionary. It’s polite to respect the beliefs of others, even if they don’t coincide with yours. In fact, it’s the American way.
We aren’t a Christian nation, no matter how many people think so. We have no national faith. You won’t find it in any law. Christians do make up a majority of the population, but using that as a basis for establishing a national faith is like saying Ford is the national car because a majority might drive it. Our founders ensured a rich tapestry by providing for the freedom to worship, or not, as one sees fit, and specifically forbidding the establishment of a national religion.
In fact, James Madison, principal author of the Bill of Rights, said, “We are teaching the world the great truth that governments do better without kings and nobles than with them. The merit will be doubled by the other lesson that religion flourishes in greater purity, without than with the aid of government.”
Madison was right. He still is. So please, spare us the misinformed outrage. You can still pray. You can pray in the council chamber during the meeting as long as it doesn’t disrupt business. You can pray anywhere in America you want, even among those who don’t like it, to any deity you choose.
It’s also worth noting that in America, your rights are only as good as those of people you despise. Please keep that in mind the next time you rail against pagan prayers and godless people.Email | Print